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China returns boat, fishermen it seized off central coast

Update: June, 26/2015 - 09:11

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh. — File Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Seventeen fishermen and one of two fishing boats seized by the China Coast Guard in the sea off Viet Nam's central Quang Binh Province earlier this month have been returned.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Beijing is continuing to demand China unconditionally return the other vessel seized, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh said at a press conference yesterday.

Binh said the China Coast Guard informed the office on June 19 that it had seized the boats - QB93694TS and QB93480TS - and their crew. Embassy staff visited the detained fishermen.

According to latest information, the 17 fishermen and boat QB93480TS have arrived back in Viet Nam safely, Binh said, adding that the embassy was continuing to demand China return QB93694TS unconditionally.

Asked about China allegedly forcing the fishermen to sign documents recognising China's sovereignty in the East Sea, the Foreign Ministry ordered the Vietnamese Embassy to clarify the information to determine the appropriate response, he noted.

At the press conference, reporters questioned a recent statement by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang that China's island construction and reclamation in the East Sea were within the scope of its sovereignty.

Binh said China's large-scale construction and expansion of islands and reefs in Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago was illegal and could not change the fact that Viet Nam has legal foundation and historical evidence proving its sovereignty over this chain of islands.

Viet Nam requested China immediately halt the activities, respect Viet Nam's sovereignty over the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos, comply seriously with international law - especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea - and not take any actions to complicate the situation and the status quo in the waters.

Meanwhile, the Chinese newspaper People's Daily ran an article saying in case of emergency, China would convert all civilian maritime ships to military use.

Responding to this, Binh said Viet Nam hoped as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an important player in the region, China would make responsible and constructive contributions to maintaining regional and international peace and stability. — VNS

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